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As we continue our cloud-first series for Apple-focused organizations, I’m going to look at four key areas that should be in the cloud going forward. The topics this week are web hosting, email, web filtering, and cameras. While a few of these are pretty forward-thinking (web filtering and enterprise cloud-based cameras), as your organization grows, you’ll appreciate the scalability this choice brings.
About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers has been managing an enterprise IT network since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.
While most smaller organizations are using a third-party service to host their websites, I think it’s time for all sizes of organizations to move to the cloud for web hosting. By hosting a website in your own data center, you’ll be responsible for handling bandwidth spikes, server maintenance, security, etc.
If you leverage a third-party service, you can know that hosting experts are managing your web hosting. Some smaller organizations might want to look at solutions like Squarespace or WordPress.com for even more simplified hosting.
Unless you’re a web hosting expert, the cost-to-benefit ratio of hosting your website isn’t there in 2020, and it likely wasn’t in 2015 either.
Watching almost all organizations migrate to hosted email services over the past decade has been shocking. In the 2009 time frame, an organization was unique if it was using a hosted Exchange solution or G Suite. Flash forward to 2020, and Office 365/G Suite is the default choice for most organizations. Even if they are leveraging a local domain controller, Office 365 offers so many benefits for an IT office that it’s hard to ignore.
Email has gone from a user logging into a desktop that is always at the office using Outlook to a user having 5+ devices all wanting to access the same account in a variety of applications. Calendar and contacts are thrown in with this situation as well.
Email is essential for all organizations, hosted email costs have come way down, and email security needs are at an all-time high. I am not saying that no organization should be using a local email server, but the script has flipped. It used to be that you needed an excellent reason to use a hosted email solution, but in 2020, you need a good reason to use a local server. Email has gotten more complicated to manage, and therefore it’s something that should be hosted in the cloud.
While most firewalls still offer deep packet inspection and content filtering, I see a trend where many organizations are leveraging cloud products to either offset or completely take over this task. Products like Cisco Umbrella and Yandex DNS offer some unique solutions that enterprises should be considering. As I’ve mentioned multiple times, our needs have changed. Securing the main campus is not our only problem. We have remote workers and mobile workers as well. How do you handle IT security and filtering needs for folks not on your main campus? While many companies force a VPN to access corporate resources like email, I think a better way is to secure the connection itself using a cloud-based security solution. The two I mentioned are just a couple of the options out there, but it’s something you should be considering.
Enterprise cloud-based cameras
Enterprise cloud-based cameras are a tricky solution right now. There are two leading cloud IP camera vendors that I’ve worked with: Meraki and Verkada. Both companies offer awesome solutions, but they are costly. They are expensive for a small office that needs four cameras, but they get even more expensive as you scale up.
One of the vendors I am watching here is Ubiquiti. They offer low-cost cameras with robust software on top of it. While they don’t have cloud hosting, they do provide easy offsite access without requiring you to configure a static IP or open a bunch of ports. The new Ubiquiti Dream Machine Pro is an ideal solution for businesses wanting to leverage the UniFi camera lineup. My hope going forward is that Ubiquiti will offer a solution for folks wanting 40–50 cameras in a single campus with the use of multiple cloud keys.
Overall, enterprise cameras are still the hardest to move 100% to the cloud. In a perfect world, a vendor would build a $150 camera solution that includes seven days of footage for $50 per year, per camera.
Next week, I will continue to look at various solutions that forward-thinking organizations should be moving to the cloud as they seek to simplify and scale their businesses. Do you have any questions about the solutions I’ve mentioned here? Please leave me a comment below or shoot me an email. I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can in future articles. Do you have any better options for enterprise cloud-based cameras? I am particularly interested in new solutions there.
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